Sale Sharks secured a memorable Aviva Premiership Rugby victory over Harlequins for the first time since 2010 thanks to a late try from captain Dan Braid.
In a tight match that went right up to the final whistle, Braid’s converted try ten minutes before time opened up a four point lead and despite Harlequins’ best efforts the Sale defence stood firm to secure an important victory that sees them climb above Quins in the Aviva Premiership table.
It was the away side who started the match on top with Sale fly-half Danny Cipriani opening the scoring in the second minute with a penalty from close range, following an excellent break from Will Cliff.
But Quins responded with three points of their own as Nick Evans converted from inside the 22 after Sale had collapsed a scrum.
Former All Blacks international Evans was looking the most likely to provide a moment of inspiration for the home side and his inventive grubber just alluded Charlie Walker by the touchline inside Sale’s half.
With just over a quarter of an hour played, Evans added his second penalty of the evening to give his side an early 6-3 lead.
Ten minutes later a poor kick by Ross Chisholm into touch initiated a period of pressure for Sale which resulted in the concession of another penalty in front of the posts and Cipriani duly dispatched the kick to level the scores.
Harlequins responded well to the setback but found it difficult to break down a resilient Sale defence.
With a minute to go in the first-half Cipriani missed an opportunity to give his side the lead as his penalty from distance drifted narrowly wide.
The second-half began in much the same vain with both sides largely embroiled in a midfield battle and the loudest cheer of the evening came on 50 minutes as Danny Care, who was released by England coach Stuart Lancaster last week, was brought on to freshen up the Quins attack.
With both sides struggling to create an opening it looked increasingly like set pieces would be the most likely way to separate the sides.
Within a five minute period Evans kicked another two penalties, either side of a close range Cipriani effort to give Harlequins a slender 12-9 advantage after an hour.
Sale went close to scoring the first try of the game after a flowing move from a scrum found its way to replacement winger Andy Forsyth but his attempted grubber kick was touched down by a covering Chisholm.
But moments later the Sale try did come as former New Zealand international Braid touched down and Cipriani made no mistake with the resulting conversion, giving Sale a slender advantage going into the final ten minutes.
The home side responded in determined fashion as they sought the try to restore the lead, but they could not break down a well organised Sale defence and after turning over possession Cliff kicked for touch to secure the points for the Sharks.